Here in my bit of France, the far north, we’ve had a rather spring-like week, warm and dry enough to do a bit of gardening. I thought I might even plant some early vegetable seeds in the greenhouse but I am assured by my neighbour Jean-Claude that winter is not done with us yet. 2nd February was La Chandeleur, Candlemas, a day for eating pancakes in France but also legend says that this day, the mid-point of winter, can be a prediction for what’s to come. And he says, ‘according to the weather on the day in Lorraine, the bear will return to its cave’. Don’t ask me why he is checking with Lorraine in northeast France when we are in a different area, but apparently this means wintry rain and cold will prevail for the next six weeks.
Ten years of The Good Life France
I also celebrated an anniversary this week – it’s ten years since I started The Good Life France!
When I moved to France in 2009 with my husband Mark to renovate our decrepit, and very cheap, old farmhouse in the lovely Seven Valleys, we always planned to return to part time work in London when our hared-earned savings ran out! But we fell so in love with the way of life, our friendly neighbours, the sheep that inexplicably lived in our garden, the markets and the joie de vivre (even with an exploding septic tank), we decided to try to find a way to stay. We were too young and too poor to retire so it wouldn’t be easy. But fate stepped in and just six months later, my dad fell ill with cancer and I returned to London to be with him. For two years I went back and forth and put everything on hold while my dad had treatment. When he slept during the day, I would write about my life in France. He would read my scribbles and one day said, “You’re not bad, you should write more.” Coming from my dad, that was a huge compliment! I was devastated when he didn’t make it.
Back in France, the renovation which had been mostly on hold, began afresh. Dad had urged me to follow my dreams. My friends and family would ring regularly to find out how it was going. Had my broken finger mended after I dropped a brick on it, was Mark over his electric shock? All the fun things! In 2012 Mark built me a website so I could keep everyone updated without stopping to answer the phone which interrupted work. I called my website The Good Life France. The first month I had 496 views. I was astonished, I didn’t know 496 people. Six months later it had 60,000 views per month. Bu 2021, it reached over 4 million views a month through the website, magazine and social media. The Good Life France just grew and grew… It’s a long story, much longer than I can tell you here (I do have two books about it though, details below – and a new one out this spring!).
I never dreamed that 10 years later, I would be chatting to people all around the world, writing for a living, producing a magazine about France (you can read it and subscribe totally for free here) – and still not quite finished the renovation!
I wish you a very bon weekend and bisous from my little pigsty writing den, where I’m dreaming of snow in Paris!
Janine Marsh is Author of My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream – ebook, print & audio, on Amazon everywhere & all good bookshops online, and My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life
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